A Different Kind of Radiant

Thursday’s appointment with the radiologist went really well. We met with Dr. Wendland at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and she gave us some great information on the whole radiology protocol. As she went through what some of the benefits of radiation could be, I was thinking that it was something that I should probably do.

Then she went through some of the reasons I might not want to go forward with it. As I understood, with radiation, the drawbacks are relatively site related. She said that because of the degree of advancement of my Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, there was no way that they could focus the radiation on each area that had shown having cancerous activity, so they would just have to focus on the mass. Because my mass is in my chest, there are a lot more major organs that could be affected by the radiation. The major concerns that they have are for the lungs, heart & breasts. There are side effects that I could have that would show up right away, but it’s the long-term side effects that concern them the most.

With the lungs, I could have reduced function in the future, and with the breasts, it would raise my chances of getting breast cancer. But she said that it was what could happen with my heart that concerned her the most. Since the location of my mass was so very close to my heart, there would be no way to treat the mass with radiation without also treating the heart. She said that if I were 79 years old, complications in 30 years wouldn’t be an issue, but in her opinion, the risks to me outweigh the benefits of radiation. She had called Dr. Sharman and talked to him about my case to see what his thoughts were about my treatment.

When a patient has a “bulky” mass (10 cm and larger), they feel (and evidence shows) that it’s important to do the radiation. My mass originally was measured at 10.0 cm, but later, in the PET scan that was done, both she & Dr. Sharman measured my mass to be right around 8.2 cm. Both doctors felt that because it was more of a “gray” area, they wanted my input on whether I wanted to do the radiation or not. Talk about pressure! 🙂

Finally, after discussing everything at length, and finding out that both she & Dr. Sharman feel that there are not enough benefits to outweigh the risks of radiation, I have decided to go with their professional opinions and not have radiation treatments. This means that once I have my last chemotherapy treatment on October 4th, I can begin the long road of recovery. I’m not even sure what that will entail, so I guess we’ll all find out together. What I do know is that I am claiming my Psalm 118:17 verse more & more every day.